What is it about?

Cultural identity in relation with mental health is of growing interest in the field of transcultural psychiatry. However, there is a need to clarify the concept of cultural identity in order to make it useful in clinical practice. The purpose of this study is to unravel the complexity and many layers of cultural identity, and to assess how stress and acculturation relate to (changes in) cultural identity. As part of a larger study about cultural identity, trauma, and mental health, 85 patients from Afghanistan and Iraq in treatment for trauma-related disorders were interviewed with a Brief Cultural Interview. The interviews were analysed through qualitative data analysis using the procedures of grounded theory. The analysis resulted in three domains of cultural identity: personal identity, ethnic identity and social identity. Within each domain relationships with stress and acculturation were identified. The results offer insight into the intensity of changes in cultural identity, caused by preand post-migration stressors and the process of acculturation. Based on the research findings recommendations are formulated to enhance the cultural competency of mental health workers.

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Why is it important?

Cultural identity is one of the components of the cultural formulation in DSM-IV and one of the central themes in the DSM-5 Cultural Formulation Interview, but the concept of cultural identity is not very clear. This study shows how cultural identity can be broken down to smaller, easier to understand domains. The consequences of changes in the personal, ethnic and social domain both in stress and acculturation are omnipresent. Information about these consequences enhances understanding of the mental health problems and therefore cultural competency of mental health workers.

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This page is a summary of: Cultural Identity Among Afghan and Iraqi Traumatized Refugees: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Mental Health Care Professionals, Culture Medicine and Psychiatry, January 2017, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s11013-016-9514-7.
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